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All skin and no shame

...innocence is just an illusion...

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Round and Round [8]
Title: Round and Round
Pairing: YunJae
Rating: PG
Length: Chaptered
Genre: AU
Disclaimer: Goblin premise, the rest is mine.

Summary: In a thousand years, there have been more flowers than rain, but the Wanderer still wanders, searching for someone he knows will bring about his demise and yet, something within him compels him to keep on searching, for his heart has never been at peace in all that time.

AN: Ok so uh…Yunho muse decided NOPE NOT DONE YET…so this is not the end yet. The next chapter will be OTL Idk how to deal with a Yunho muse cos he doesn’t come out to play with me very often so yeah…i’m letting him run with it :X Credit for the fan art is on it.

Let rain fall from concrete coloured skies
Make me feel alive
When I ride with you
Keep my hopes turning on the axles around you

Kim Shin can sense the shift in the cosmos. Perhaps he is being fanciful, and perhaps he isn’t, but as he flips over the piece of meat that is his dinner, he feels a sudden emptiness in his heart that brings a gasp to his lips.


Elsewhere, in his brand new apartment located in the same building as his boss’ penthouse, a young man stares out the window, nursing a bottle of soju, and playing back the last week in his head, a fond smile playing about his lips as he thinks about the two older men in his life. He is peeling off the label on his bottle when a sharp pain in his chest causes him to bend over, losing his grip on the green bottle as it crashes to the floor, breaking into so many pieces that he will keep finding glass shards for months.

He has felt pain before, but not like this.

This pain is so visceral it feels like someone has just shoved a red hot poker down his throat and is yanking his entrails out. He is all but choking on the blinding pain and despair that his sobs have ceased in volume till he is simply gasping horrifically, unable to draw breath, shuddering in agony, his eyes stinging from the hot pearlescent blood streaming from them.

Even his blood reminds anyone watching that he is an angel.

His fellow angels watch in silence, feeling his pain yet unable to do anything about it. He is of them, yet he isn’t. A special angel that chose to become one at a terrible expense.

Only the One knows about the true cost of his choice and yet, He knows that were the Angel offered the same choice again, he will choose the same.

One by one, unable to bear their celestial brother’s torment, the glowing beings scattered in Heaven and across the worlds sink to their knees, heads bowed in mute supplication.

His pain reaches out to touch them, imprinting on them a searing memory of two teenagers doing nothing but lying in a meadow not dissimilar to the one he is in now, chewing on blades of grass as they talk of their dreams of the land they call home. They talk of their dreams for each other, Yunho to one day lead the King’s armies to conquer and expand the boundaries of Goryeo. And Jaejoong, the prince destined to be King, to stand at his side whether he likes it or not. The conversation over dreams becomes heated when Yunho refuses to allow the King to stand with him for it is too dangerous but the King is the King and no one, not even the foremost General of the land is allowed to gainsay him. They bicker bitterly over the future, never realising that their dreams will never come to pass, the disagreement ending the way it always does.

With a kiss.

A kiss as sweet as it is sudden, for the younger boy had only wanted to shut the older one up for a moment while he tries to remember what they were arguing about. The flushed cheeks of the prince and his unseemly doe eyes, more becoming on one of the eight princesses, flashing with ire, lips slick with spit from arguing so emphatically that the boy was growing more distracted by the second.

Stunned only for a moment, the smaller teenager pushes the broader soldier back, but instead of reeling back, he chases the boy-man down to the soft grass, using his weight as leverage to deepen the chaste kiss.

Several angels clench their eyes even tighter, trying to will away the images unfolding in their minds, but their wills are nothing compared to the Angel of Death who is trying to force out his pain to the furthest reaches of his touch in the hope of some form of salvation, but there is none to be had.

Just as the vision turns carnal, it disappears like a wisp of smoke, the angels letting out a collective sigh of relief that comes too soon, for another image starts to formulate.


The Prince stares at the Minister of War, his expression cold and unnerving.

“How dare you,” he hisses, the sibilant sound at odds with the pale yet glowing countenance of his features. His eyes are over-bright from the lack of sleep from tending to his poisoned lover, but the intelligence and fury within them is crystal clear, shining in the moonlight.

The Minister of War tries to speak, but for some reason, he feels cowed. This Prince before him is not the innocent doe-eyed angelic prince he knows. The heir to the throne who demanded lessons in politics at a young age, whose questions were always intelligent within the classroom, but outside he turns vapid and flighty, much more interested in finding the best dried persimmons in the town market than exchanging pleasantries with visiting dignitaries. His faction had labeled him an easy substitute for the king, a puppet-prince whose strings could be pulled to their whims.

However there was one man in the way. Already a general at the much too young an age of twenty, whose superiors could only speak of in praises and not much else for there is nothing Jung Yunho cannot or will not do. He is the type of man who inspires those who follow him for he does not simply give orders, he does exactly what he’s ordered. He’s done everything he has ever asked of his men, including menial back breaking work as a young scout, or a squire. Many of the men who follow him are much older, but his unswerving dedication and military acuity in protecting and expanding the lands of Goryeo knows no bounds, and they follow his passion.

What many do not know or understand is that to Jung Yunho, Goryeo is Jaejoong - and Jaejoong is his life.

He noticed the closeness between the Crown Prince and the newly appointed General when they were teenagers, but never thought much of it. The then-mere soldier was teaching the prince swordplay, using the strange useless looking sword of the queen’s family. In the years that followed, whenever the soldier returned from wherever he’d been fighting on behalf of Goryeo, the prince would appear by his side, asking for all the gory details of the fights.

They grew concerned when the king himself seemed to approve and appreciate that his feminine looking son was spending so much time with someone the complete opposite of him, and encouraged their interactions, appointing Yunho and his men the Crown Prince’s official protectors. Whenever the Prince left the safety of the palace, either Yunho or his men would be with him. If his entourage were called away to fight, the Prince rarely even tried to leave the palace, content to wait till the return of his men.

There were concerns because they were worried of Jung Yunho’s influence on the next King and so they plotted. They plotted to kill him when the opportunity arose.

And that opportunity arose that night. The faction had caused a disturbance in the city and Jung Yunho and his troops had been deployed for it was too close to the palace and therefore the prince was in peril. The plan had gone off without a hitch, the arrows finding their mark easily enough for all it needed was a scratch, the archers not even needing to deal a killing blow.

Yunho is a hard man to kill though, and despite being scratched by not one, but three arrows, he survived long enough to be taken back to the barracks.

Killing him became near impossible when he found out the royal physician himself had been called to tend to the general. The physician would recognise the poison symptoms for he has come across them before. The trick with this poison is a quick death because the remedy is relatively simple though it will take days to sweat out the poison.

Fate is not on the Minister of War’s side though and looking at the Crown Prince now, his eyes so dark with anger they are almost black. His milky white skin seemingly even paler in the moonlight, and lips reddened and raw from being chewed to shreds from worry, the Minister of War finally realises his peril.

This is not the anger of a mere friend or liege.

This is the anger of a lover.

“Your arrogance will be the end of you. Did you think I did not know that you use this particular poison as a calling card? So that those who know of it will fear you, and those who did not will learn to?” the Prince’s voice is deadly and twisted into a sneer. The words and the way they come out of that mouth many have dreamed about is more frightening in its effect because of that. “What kind of prince would I be if I cannot even protect the one that I love?” he asks, tilting his head to the side as if observing the Minister as he would a really interesting but disgusting looking insect.

He tries to speak again, but he cannot. He cannot fathom how his puppet prince has turned into this monster, so beautiful yet absolutely terrifying in his beauty.

“I do not fear you,” the Prince steps forward, a smile curling about his lips that makes the Minister’s blood run cold in his veins. “But you really should fear me. Return to your home. Return to the court. Return to whatever hole you came out from because there will be no hole deep enough for you should Yunho die.”

As if the Prince notices the Minister’s changed expression at his words, his smile widens, never ever reaching his eyes.

“Oh don’t be too hopeful. If he doesn’t die, you will wish you were dead instead.”


Several of the angels clutch at their hearts, for their brother’s anger is still palpable that they can practically taste it. More cover their ears as if to block out the sound of that cold, cruel voice echoing in their minds. But even as they work through their discomfort, his memories are shifting once again.


Jaejoong lies on his side under the thick growth of overgrown trees in a wooded area at the back of the palace complex. He is on a thick blanket given to him by his naggy nanny who practically threatened to tell his father that he was leaving the palace grounds without any protection from the cold. It is late winter and there are hints of spring if you care to look hard enough, but the young prince cares nought for nature’s beauty that day.

Tracing patterns on the blanket, he doesn’t even feel the cold, mournful over having been left behind for so long. A month to be exact.

A month of not seeing him.

A month of not touching him.

A month of absolutely nothing, not even a damn letter.

No one should be spending their 19th birthday alone like this, but the prince had refused any and all celebrations, choosing instead to be alone.

When the prince gets sulky and pouty, it is much better for everyone around him to simply let him have his way for he can throw a tantrum that would cause the emperor who wanted to marry him to run for the hills.

Feeling so abysmally sorry for himself, he does not notice that his guards have moved away from the small clearing, having caught side of their leader. Both men bow low in greeting as the young captain and his squire approach. The tall and muscular eighteen year old is now never without the equally tall and almost as muscular sixteen year old who is never far from his side. Trained to be one of the preeminent archers in just two years, the teenager can hit a leaf off a twig at two hundred and fifty paces easily. This skill he has honed to utilise to warn his leader if anyone approaches, giving the boy-man and the prince enough time to get dressed if they need to, but it is a skill he has yet to use. Very few would dare to trail the prince when he is one of his moods and he always acts up when he wants to be alone with the captain.

Changmin palms off the gift he is holding into his captain’s waiting hand, eyeing the slim back of their teenaged Crown Prince ruefully.

“He didn’t even want to celebrate his birthday. You know how much he likes celebrations, especially when it’s about him. You’re going to have a devil of a time fixing this. How long did you tell him we were going to be away?”

“Two weeks,” Yunho winces, turning his eyes to the forlorn figure of the prince.

The younger man sighs at how innocent in the ways of love his captain sometimes seems to be. “You should always tell him you’re going to be longer so when you return on time, he’s going to be happy you’re back early.”

“I don’t want to lie to him,” Yunho murmurs, feeling the weight of the gift in his palm.

“Didn’t you lie about it taking only a fortnight? It took us ten days to get there in the first place,” comes the exasperated response of the matter-of-fact teenager.

Yunho doesn’t answer, giving the younger one a look that simply means -you’re toeing the line now so back up-.

Changmin bows quickly, and stays bowed till he manages to rearrange his face out of the amused grin he is wearing. He can see Yunho moving away, not bothering to wait for a response.

Straightening, he backs up until he sees his captain disappearing over the knoll and into the wooded area. Turning around, he sees the two men at a reasonable distance and he waves at them to keep their place as he moves a little farther away to settle in for however long it takes to soothe the ruffled feathers of the prince. Used to the rodeo by now, he just hopes the wind is blowing in the other direction and no untoward sounds come his way.

The attack comes so suddenly that had Yunho been anyone else, he may be mortally wounded.

Just as he reaches the prince, Jaejoong had moved swiftly, sword swinging, and due to his low position, it whistles through the air, slicing just above Yunho’s thigh.

The captain blocks the blade easily, but he gets no respite when the prince recognises him. Surging to his feet, the royal heir dressed simply in red garments glares angrily at his absent captain. Without a word, he moves forward and starts attacking.

Cutting and slicing, both hands wrapped around the tsuka the way he was taught, he is angry and hurt and he drives the soldier back deeper into the bare woods. Yunho parries easily, still the more skilful swordsman of the two, he doesn’t even use a two-handed grip though it is more out of necessity for he is still holding his gift.

The prince backs the captain against a tree, finally gaining his first advantage and in a heartbeat, his sword is against the taller teen’s throat, doe eyes flashing and threatening tears.

They stare at each other in silence, their breathing harsh from the exertion, the one in red more so, his chest heaving as he draws in deeply, inhaling the cold air and the scent of his missing lover.

“You’ve gotten better. Have you been using the dummies I had made for you in the eastern courtyard?”

“Every day,” the older boy bites out, before looking away and up towards the sky, forcing his tears back for they frighten him.

Is this what it means to love?

To hurt so deeply for a short absence?

To want to lash out and hurt the other for hurting him so?

And yet despite it all, the only thing he wants is to hold onto him and never let go.

He will be king someday, but if Yunho was ever threatened, he would bring Hell to them.

Is that a weakness or is it strength?

He feels warm fingers coaxing his chin down and his grip falters and the blade slips, nicking the captain’s throat, the crimson line a shock to the prince’s eyes even though the younger teen does not even flinch.

Dropping his sword in horror, he backs away, but Yunho doesn’t let him get far, dropping his own sword as he follows.

Catching the slimmer man around his narrow waist, the captain pulls his lover to him, flush against his body as the wind picks up around them, blowing dead leaves and cooling their overheated bodies. Mouth pressed against an icy ear, his words are soft. “It doesn’t hurt, my love. What hurts is the pain in your eyes and I’m sorry for my part in putting it there. I couldn’t send you any letters because the insurgents were intercepting our mail carriers and murdering them at every opportunity, but know that I thought of you every night and every day. When I saw the sun, it made me feel better that you were staring at the same sun, and I remembered how beautiful you looked with the sunset dancing its golden rays on your perfect body as you seduced me with words that would make a courtesan blush. When I lay on my pallet under the stars, I saw the moon and decided that it paled in the face of your beauty, and that it should probably try harder but I know the truth, and try as it might, it can never be more beautiful than you for you are the Crown Prince and by all the court heralds and all the kingdoms surrounding us, you are still the undisputed foremost beauty. I am a soldier, Jaejoong, but I will give you as many pretty words as you want, because I love you and I know you like pretty words. You read enough poetry books to make me want to burn them all, especially when you decide to read them to me in the middle of the night when you sneak out of the palace to share my pithy bed on the floor. I should really report the terrible lapse in security but at the same time I feel selfish because I know my men will never let you out of their sight, and even Changmin would be hard pressed not to comment on your little ass wiggling into the window to my quarters.”

Jaejoong rears back, eyes feeling warm but no longer tearful, smacking Yunho in the chest. “Little ass?”

“Big ass then?”

The prince growls under his breath, but he is cut off by a wind burned mouth against his much softer pout, Yunho’s rough cracked lips dragging heavily across his mouth that pulls a moan from his throat. Licking at the other’s dry mouth, Jaejoong pulls back instead of deepening the kiss, peppering the chapped skin with tiny kitten licks and kisses meant to soothe.

Sighing against the other teen’s mouth, Yunho allows the gentle ministrations, the prince’s kisses a balm that no other can replicate. He starts to crab walk, directing them back to the comfortable looking blankets on the ground a small way away.

For the entire length of the walk, Jaejoong doesn’t relinquish his lips even once, continually pressing achingly loving kisses to his mouth.

Yunho lowers them both carefully to the ground, and when the prince is on his back, he finally pulls away, an amused glint in his shining doe eyes.

“Why am I always the one on the bottom?”

Smirking, the soldier turns over, flipping the surprised prince over him till he is sitting astride. “Better?”

“Hmmm…” Jaejoong wrinkles his nose, looking around from his new vantage point. “I don’t know…” he looks down, and a soft gasp escapes his lips.

Yunho is immediately concerned, lifting his free hand to cup the other’s cheek. “What’s the matter?”

“You…you’re still bleeding,” the prince’s eyes are huge in his pale face, his expressive face showing his contrition and his pain at having caused his love pain. Leaning over he tries to press his sleeve to the shallow wound but his arm is caught before it reaches.

Yunho shakes his head. “You are the prince, you cannot soil your clothes with my blood. Just tear my sleeve and—“

But the captain forgets to whom he is speaking to.

Jaejoong may be destined to be king.

But there is only one king that he will ever recognise in his life.

Yanking his arm free, he presses the material against the other’s throat in a mimicry of the earlier swordplay, taking advantage of his position to exert more pressure with lesser strength, he bends over till he is nose to nose with the younger teen.

“I would soil my clothes with you every single day for the rest of my life, and burn whoever dares to tell me otherwise, and that may or may not include you, my love.”

Yunho bites his lip. He is trying, he really is, but the prince’s words have caused a tiny bubble of laughter to gurgle in his throat. He knows this is absolutely the wrong time to laugh with Jaejoong being his serious Crown Prince self that he sometimes isn’t sure is for real or just a joke, though he knows deep down it is likely not a joke at all, but the words…the words.

He loses.

That tiny bubble bursts forth as a loud guffaw, throwing the prince off to the side, not quite tumbling off, but he has to hang on for the soldier is laughing uproariously.

Some distance away, his laughter is heard, and Changmin smiles to himself as he settles back against his unrolled pallet, continuing to examine the fletchings on his arrows.

Annoyed and maybe a little embarrassed because he finally realises how his words must sound, the prince sits up and glares at Yunho. “Must you? I was trying to be serious.”

The disarming grin sent back up to him is glorious and brighter than the sun, and the prince says so, causing another bout of laughter.

Now feeling really put upon, the prince tries to get off the captain chortling rather unbecomingly between his thighs, but of course his young love will have none of it.

Yunho flips them back over, nuzzling his nose against the now irate prince’s cool cheek. “You are the moon and I am the sun. I guess we fit then.”

“I don’t want to be the moon. We’ll never meet,” Jaejoong grouches, trying to fold his arms but Yunho’s body is half atop his and his sleeves are caught.

“The sun and the moon are in the sky together occasionally.”

“Occasionally isn’t good enough. I want forever.”

“Forever is a long time, your highness,” Yunho continues to nuzzle against the cool cheek, this time it is his turn to pepper soft slightly rough kisses against the man’s porcelain smooth skin.

“Don’t you want forever with me?”

“I’m afraid you might get sick of me.”

Jaejoong makes a disbelieving sound. “You must be addled to even think that. Did the insurgents knock the sense out of you?” he finally manages to dislodge one arm and taps playfully against the captain’s temple. “Jung Yunho, captain of Goryeo, future General of Goryeo, lover of the current Crown Prince and future King of Goryeo, you are Goryeo. You must be insane to even think I’d want anyone but you. If I can’t have you then I’ll have no one.”

Dark glittering almond eyes humbled and filled with love meet luminous doe eyes shining with love and conviction.

“I hope I find you in each of my four lives. I pray to the Almighty that this is my first life, and that I will have three more with you before we return to Heaven forever. Even if our lives are a thousand years apart when we next meet, I hope my soul knows you and loves you the way I love you today, tomorrow and yesterday. And even if you don’t remember me, I will be content seeing you and knowing that you are fine.”

Jaejoong drops his gaze to the younger teen’s mouth, seeing the words and hearing them and the pang in his soul and heart is so deep it feels bottomless. His words are incautious, a curse of royalty no doubt. “No demon, angel or deity could hide you from me. I will rage in Hell until I am brought before you. I will turn the Heavens upside down until you are no longer just a memory. I will lay waste to everything before me until you are returned to me. Jung Yunho, know this, not even the Almighty could keep me from you.”

A white butterfly flits nearby, resting on a late winter bloom.

Yunho presses a finger to the plush mouth. “Jaejoong…don’t tempt Fate.” And to soften his quiet chastise, he leans down to replace his finger with his mouth, kissing that full pout gently lest he be tempted to deepen it. “I brought you a gift.”

Jaejoong, feeling mellow all of a sudden, struggles a little to free his other arm then wrapping them around the soldier and squeezing happily. “You’re my present. I don’t need anything else.”

The soldier smiles fondly at his prince. This flighty streak is one of things he loves about the older man. He is unpredictable and always loveable in whatever incarnation he chooses to adopt at any one time. As a ranked soldier in the King’s army, he needs to be serious most of the time and Jaejoong allows him to shed that armour.

He brings his hand up, having clutched his gift for the entirety of their reunion. It is a precious gift, and he had almost died getting it, but that’s a story for another day and maybe he’ll share the details with his love when they are old and grey and the man can’t try to kill him for taking such a huge gamble with his life. Jaejoong doesn’t need to know that Yunho almost did not return to him.

“Open it.”

Jaejoong turns his eyes down at the delicate kerchief hiding something from his sight. Looking up at the loving gaze of the eighteen year old, he takes the dainty cloth and unfolds it.

It is a wealth of green.

He knows what it is for he was wooed by trinkets such as these by the emperor, but those pale in comparison to the brilliance of these.


“We met a scholar and he explained the significance of these to me.”

“I asked where…”

“I know, and I’m choosing not to answer you.” Yunho presses an apologetic kiss to the prince’s mouth.

“Yunho…these look even more precious than the ones from the emperor.”

“A precious gift for the one precious to me.”

“Don’t think I’m going to forget to ask you where you got these sometime in the future.”

“I don’t doubt it,” the soldier smiles, resting off to the side, elbow on the ground and cupping the side of his head as he stares at Jaejoong who is twisting the two items in his hands, marvelling at them. He runs the back of a finger down the bridge of the prince’s nose, causing the older teen to wrinkle his nose cutely at the gesture, Yunho’s heart feeling so full that if he were to die in that moment, he’d be content.

“What did the scholar tell you then?”

“What do you know about these?”

“They’re more precious than gold.”


“They are meant to signify royalty? I think the emperor is referred to as the Jade Emperor for a reason.”

“Well, I guess you could say that,” Yunho leans over, nuzzling an ear. He can’t help it. Jaejoong just invites nuzzling.

Lots and lots of nuzzling.

“I think it means eternity too.” Jaejoong lifts both items - one a bangle, the other a disc like an amulet with a hold in the middle.

“It’s a set. A pair. Can you not guess what it means?” Yunho coaxes, voice husky in the prince’s ear.

Jaejoong stares at the items in his hands, turning them over and over. He shakes his head, a little afraid to answer because he doesn’t want to get his hopes up. “Tell me,” he demands.

“You’re right, it does mean eternity. I’m not very good at this but I’m going to try.” Yunho takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent of his lover before leaning back slightly to gaze at his face. “It also means noble, pure and beautiful, apparently ideal characteristics of a wife. It also signifies sincerity, courage, justice and wisdom, apparently ideal characteristics of a husband.” He pauses, eyes dropping to the reddened pout of the prince, his voice lowering to a whisper. “The colour signifies loyalty, a characteristic that is ideal in both a husband and a wife.” His eyes lift to meet the older teen’s whose eyes are now shimmering with the unshed tears he swallowed back from before. “And I am so lucky indeed that I found someone who embodies every single one of those characteristics.”

The battle is lost with the tears as one rolls out slowly, captured by the tip of a calloused finger and brought to a cupid bow mouth to taste the saltiness.

“I should be asking you, not the other way round,” Jaejoong finally manages to speak, his voice a little hoarse as his eyes travel back to the items in his hand. “The bangle is for me and the disc for you to wear as a talisman?”

Yunho nods, leaning forward to kiss away at another tear, licking the dampness. “It is a symbol or protection. To protect you. To protect us. Your highness…” he pauses leaning back, his heart caught in his throat. “I know it’s probably too forward and presumptuous—“

“Jung Yunho,” Jaejoong’s voice is an aching whisper but the royal demand is imbued nonetheless. “Do not grovel. It doesn’t become you. Ask me as the man you are, the man you will become, and the man I believe in.”

“When the time is right and the world is ready for us, whenever that may be, now or a thousand years from now, will you marry me?”



The angels are weeping. They weep in fear and they weep in the shared pain, and they weep for the folly of their brother. He who dares to taunt their Lord.

With that final memory, the Angel shatters. His control over his will is lost as he succumbs to the acute pain of his memories and he retreats within himself, clawing at the frailty of his soul, completely unaware that once again, he has caused chaos to run supreme.

“Did you take away his power?”

The man turns to look at the woman, his expression implacable. “I will ignore your insolence for I know you are grieving with him, and I will explain something to you that I don’t need to, but I am always Merciful and I know you are hurting.” His expression softens as she gazes up at him through the tears of blood she has shed for her ward. He warned her she was too close, but she is still his child, as is the bereft Angel of Death now bringing a pall down over the world.

“He chose to forget because his Lover was killed for him and cursed to walk the Earth alone for an eternity for in reality, there is no bride for the Lover of the Angel. In exchange for an end to his Lover’s penance, he chose to forget. He chose to forget as a sacrifice so that his Lover may not spend thousands and thousands of years wandering the Earth in solitude. He chose to forget after spending two hundred years grieving in Hell which was the only punishment he received for his mortal sin. A mild punishment some might say for something so abhorrent to me, and yet I am the All Knowing and I know his memories of his Lover would be a pain beyond endurance for him, and yet he would have continued in that wretched existence had I not given him a choice.” He pauses, leaning forward to brush away the tears from the beautiful deity’s face and tilting her gaze up to his. “He chose to forget because I gave him a choice. Serve me and love me as my Angel of Death, and he would have power beyond that of every other angel, and I promised an end to his Lover’s eternal suffering on Earth. However with a great gift comes great sacrifice - Yunho will only be freed from his cursed existence if he chooses to give up his memories of their short life together.”

“How…how? Yunho is the Lover of the Angel. He is destined to be with him.”

“He is, isn’t he…” the man murmurs, leaning back with an unreadable expression. He can hear more thoughts forming in his goddess’ mind around that particular point, and he changes the subject for it does not suit him to discuss it right then. “Why do you think the souls cry for him in Hell? He sends them there with the searing memory of himself and it is like the proverbial nail on the coffin, the cherry on top, the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is a reason souls are not meant to remember their past lives. Living in your memories can make you lose yourself and you will go mad no matter how strong you believe you are. The better the memories, the worst it is for you because you know you can never have it, can never get it back, will never relive it again.”

“They are sent with a memory of him and there is no one more beautiful that they could have gotten…” she knows of his unique punishment amongst those who deal with the dead.

“Yes, child, and his power is an illusion for they would never have gotten him. He just makes them remember him and it is a cruel punishment for these souls will suffer and pine for him for eternity without relief. They have to endure both that, and the judgment laid down upon them by your brother in Hell.”

“He did it to his father,” her voice is a hushed whisper.

“That was his prerogative. He is still an Angel and he still knows right from wrong. No matter how vindictive he may feel, at the end of the day, he will still do the right thing. In all his eight hundred years of servitude, and even during his short mortal life, he has never punished someone who did not deserve it.”

“His fate was not mine, was it?” she finally asks the question that has been bugging her for a very long time. She told her ward he was taken from her and the path he ended up on was not the fate she chose for him, but she wonders if it was ever her choice to begin with.

Laughter fills the room. A gentle laughter this time, yet it hurts all the same with its beauty and power, heard across the worlds including by all her siblings, especially her brother down in Hell. He tilts his head up towards the blackened roof of his abode and smiles to himself, offering a supplication to the one who had just blessed them, as the fight leaves the Missing Souls bound by the Angel of Death, now tied temporarily to the sound of that beautiful laughter instead.

“Everyone’s fate belongs to you when they are born, including his, but it was his will that broke the ties your fate wrapped around him. It wasn’t of my doing though I know you think I took him from you.”


“He was destined to rule, not his father. You know this for it was the fate you pulled for him. However his execution of the Minister of War changed his path and you lost him. He made his choice then - to be king or to eventually lose Yunho. He loved his father, yes, but his choice, at the very deepest part of it, he did it solely because of Yunho. The execution was so savage and brutal because he wanted to make a statement and an example of the man, and to warn all other comers that he is not to be trifled with. The poison was the Minister’s doing and he did not want a repeat.”

She drops her gaze to stare at her hands. There was a pocket of changed fates at the time, but she never imagined that it was all the doing of one mortal. It happens every now and again, and usually due to an interference from her realm in some form or other but never has any been a result of the choice of a human.

Looking up again, she tries for one last question as He seems to be in an indulgent mood.

As if reading her thoughts, he answers her before she can voice it. “He chose to serve and with his choice, I gave him his power. It is a gift from me and it can only be returned by the one it was given to. I can take away his power if I chose to, but I have never taken back a gift and I don’t intend to start with him.”

“So why can’t he call Yunho back?”

The man sighs, turning his gaze down towards the prone figure lying in the meadow. “He can.”


“It is for him to figure out, should he choose to. However his will is weak when it comes to the Lover. He may choose the same path he chose eight hundred years ago and ask to forget.”

Samshin Halmeoni gasps, her hand to her mouth, eyes wide, shaking her head in denial. “He wouldn’t. He couldn’t.”

“He’s done so before.”

Seven days and seven nights.

A brief loss of his power caused unmentionable chaos.

Seven days and seven nights wreaks havoc across all the planes that even the human world feels it.

Atrocities go unchecked, and the level of violence increases as more and more bodies are being possessed by souls no longer afraid of being caught. Most remember the first time it happens, and how briefly it lasts, but when a full day goes by and the fear stays staved, they grow bold.

By the third day, the Academy of Grim Reapers had called an emergency meeting to deal with the madness.

By the fifth day, they beg Samshin Halmeoni to intervene and seek a new Angel of Death.

But Angels are not replaced out of hand, for their whims are not their own, and they only seek to serve.

Except one Angel whose appointment was a choice, thus again like his gift, the only way to release him is if he chooses to relinquish it.

On the seventh day, the Angel opens his eyes to a brilliant sunset burning in the west as it goes down steadily with darkness on its tail.

He is lying in that same meadow.

In the same spot.

Refusing to believe.

For seven nights and seven days he lies in the silence of his surroundings, and the weeping of his soul.

When he finally stirs from his supine position, the outline of his body a visible mark on the earth, indelibly seared into it, he stares into the setting sun with blood red eyes.

Demon eyes.

But he is no demon.

And as if remembering himself, he closes his eyes, flexing his back, willing his wings to burst forth.

The resulting snap of his beautiful wings unfurling causes a detonation once again across the other realm.

Reapers drop to their knees where they stand before prostrating in gratitude to the Almighty for answering their pleas though He had nothing to do with it.

The disbelieving howls of miscreant souls echo across the lands.

And the Lord of Hell himself watches in amusement as the shock registers on the features of those special souls sent directly to him from the Angel of Death. Simply bound by the laughter of the Almighty previously, those shackles are swapped for the original and they fall at his feet, clamouring for mercy. There is none to give though for he is not a merciful lord.

Those wings envelope the man hugging his knees as he stares into nothing, and he disappears.

“Where did he go?”

“Nowhere you need to know about.”

“What do you mean?” she asks quietly, already anticipating an answer she will not like and she is right.

“I forbid you to go to him. Do not show yourself to him, and if he sees you while I have not rescinded my order, you will be punished. He is not to hear, see, touch, smell, nor taste you, nor are you to appear to him in his dreams. Leave him to make his own choices and do not interfere.”

The deity bows her head in mute deference, shoulders sagging, knowing she has no choice.

The Angel roams the world, chasing twilight each day as it moves across the earth.

Every night he tries.

Calling his name three times.

Just three.

Always three.

Sometimes softly under his breath, his melodious voice like the caress of a lover, the sound taken away by the wind.

And sometimes in anger and disbelief, his voice like a thunderclap that scares the fauna within a ten mile radius.

And sometimes it is a heartbreaking lament, his voice soaring over the winds, undulating in the breeze, begging his Lover to return to him.

But the result is always the same.

For three thousand ever-lasting nights.


And each time he fails, his eyes bleed even more.

The days turn into weeks.

The weeks into months.

And the months into years.

Ten years to be exact.

Changmin’s expression is stoic as he sits with Kim Shin and his CEO, listening and learning.

Yunho, like Kim Shin, preferred to be a somewhat absent CEO to minimise the questions that may be directed at his agelessness. However, unlike Kim Shin, Yunho did not have a capable man to step in to take care of his business in his absence, simply preferring to conduct it himself at a distance.

However, when it is clear the man isn’t returning anytime soon, Changmin had needed to step up. While he has an uncanny gift for making the same or similar decisions to Yunho, he is still relatively young to be running an international business, and so he reaches out to the only man he knows who understands and can help him.

Kim Shin’s CEO is an extremely capable man and generous with his experience and knowledge. He taught the young secretary everything he knows while secretly wishing his own grandson had even a tenth of the aptitude of Shim Changmin. They are both of a similar age, yet the maturity of the slightly older man is oceans apart from Deok Hwa.

Changmin listens attentively, making notes. The elder man has been sitting with him daily, teaching him about the business and the clients and what needs to be done immediately and what can wait. It sits unspoken that the rest of the sentence is till Yunho returns.

It’s been almost a decade and he finally feels ready to go at it alone.

But he doesn’t want to.

It’s taken that long because he refuses to accept the reality.

He just wants his hyung back.

Both of them.

And he cannot help feeling that the entire mess is his fault.

They wrap up the meeting as the CEO has other meetings to attend, and they promise to catch up at least once a week.

Changmin gets up, walking both men to the door, but is unsurprised when only the CEO leaves, and Kim Shin remains by his side.

Both men wait till the elevator door closes before turning back to head to Yunho’s office.

They walk in silence, side by side, heading unerringly towards the bar in the corner to grab a stiff drink or two.

“How are you doing?”

“About the same as you,” Changmin replies, gesturing out the window with his glass of amber liquid, at the light rain that has fallen off and on for almost a decade now without pause. “It’s a wonder we haven’t drowned in precipitation. Couldn’t you have chosen some other way to share your grief?”

It is a mournful rain, speaking of a grief that cannot be articulated. How does one grieve for a friend you’ve had for nine centuries? What can be enough to show the depth of the hurt and emptiness in you?

“I can’t seem to stop it,” the goblin admits, putting his glass down and bending over, carding both hands through his thick hair, tugging at his scalp till his eyes water from the pain he is giving himself. “When it does stop, it’s because I’m distracted or asleep, nothing more, nothing less.”

Changmin is silent, staring out at the rain that grows steadily heavier even as he watches.

“What do we do?” he finally speaks, causing the younger goblin to raise his tearful eyes at him.

“What can we do? This is my fate too.”

Only the Goblin’s bride will pull out that sword, and if the sword is pulled, may it return to ash and be at peace.

“Tell me again what they were doing when you saw them last.”

Kim Shin leans back against the sofa, closing his eyes at the memory, at the yearn in his soul when he heard his name being called, how it would have been impossible for him to resist even if he wanted to, and how much it hurt to even consider disobeying and the pain originated from the very depths of his soul, as if the Angel had his hands on it and was squeezing.

And that was when he was being called nicely. He cannot begin to fathom what it would feel like to be called in anger.

“He was practicing calling goblins. He called me, and he only had to call once because I couldn’t even imagine saying no to him.”

“That’s all?”

“They were cuddling. Yunho hyung was hugging him from behind and they were very happy. His Angel’s eyes were shining.”

“Then what happened?”

“I left. I’ve told you this several times and my story hasn’t changed. I was probably there for a minute or so and they were both insanely happy.”

“And then…”

“And then I couldn’t feel him anymore. It’s like his presence fled the earth and he was no longer here.”

“Can an angel go blind?” the crimson deity asks quietly, watching the blond celestial sitting on a cliff staring out at the ocean beneath him. “Or mute?”

“He still speaks,” the man replies while watching a glowing model of the earth, his hand skimming the surface, not quite touching. His attention is fully on the globe, brow furrowed. His features are different yet again. He is borrowing another body. A familiar body.

“He doesn’t speak. He calls souls. He doesn’t say a word other than to call a soul to him.”

“Are you arguing semantics with me?” he leans back, cocking an eyebrow, his expressive face showing his amusement easily. His attention on her, his fingers dip into the spinning globe, in the middle of the Atlantic, and a rogue wave appears thousands of miles from anything or anyone. Confused marine creatures tumble here and there, caught up in the giant hundred foot wave caused by nothing remotely normal.

She shakes her head in mute apology though her gaze doesn’t waver, watching her ward whom she has been banned from communicating with. It’s been a decade and he still looks the same as he did over eight hundred years ago.

She keeps watching the same spot long after he has left.

He is taking another sip of his drink when something catches the corner of his eye.


He is dressed very simply in white pants, head cocked as he hears the word. The former seducer of errant souls no longer hides his true form when he metes out his justice. The only difference is that his eyes are now blood red instead of the white glow that mesmerised everyone. Coupled with his freezing countenance, the demon eyes, and the butterfly brand on his body that can now be seen by one and all, the Angel terrifies even more now without so much as a word. Souls run to him for they fear an even worse reprisal if they try to run away from him.

The Angel is branded by the mark of the Almighty himself and to disobey or disregard him, is tantamount to disobeying the One who is always with him.

Folding his wings back, he pads barefoot towards the two men staring agog at him.

“Hyung?” Changmin’s voice is an aching whisper, taking in the difference in the Angel, his heart hurting even more for he knows whatever he feels, this being feels even more.

The Angel doesn’t respond, and both men feel the distinct chill in the room as he approaches them, blood red eyes moving from each of their faces, back and forth.

“You are a Goblin.” the Angel states, his eyes finally settling on Kim Shin, his voice not the slightest bit less melodious from disuse, before turning his gaze towards Changmin. “But you are not.”


“Who are you?”

AN: Yunho muse is…unpredictable…

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Nikki you are killing me!

I died.

And I am born again.

Why? Why did he choose to forget? Where is yunho?

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